As someone who's been hunted by the torch- and pitchfork-toting mob and who's career has lived to tell the tale, Joe Rogan is about a good a candidate as any to make the points he brings up here. Namely:
“Wokeness killed the comedy movie."
"What was the last great comedy movie?”
“Do woke people make comedy? Is there a woke comedy movie? Is there even an attempt at a politically correct comedy movie?"
"They just stopped making comedy movies.”
I'll try to address them all, but in broad strokes, I've been having this conversation with my friends and brothers for years now. We've even kicked around the idea of a podcast where every week you discuss a movie that could never be made today. And most of them are on the list of our 100 or so favorite comedies:
--Revenge of the Nerds? Lewis wears a costume to have sex with a girl who mistakes him for her boyfriend.
--American Pie? Jimbo's buddies are on his webcam as he tried to seduce Nadia.
--The Naked Gun trilogy? The Police Academy franchise? Jokes about police brutality.
--Animal House? Toxic masculinity all over the place.
--Caddyshack? Classism. Racism. Ageism. Sexism.
--Wedding Crashers? The Male Gaze. Negative female stereotypes.
--Weird Science? Teenage male fantasies about adult women.
--Blazing Saddles? Everything.
Everyone of them packed theaters, filled them with laughter, and made people happy for a couple of hours. And are no longer allowed.
And I understand if some elements of some celebrated comedies haven't aged well. The gong sound that goes off every time Long Duc Dong appears in Sixteen Candles is pretty cringey, for example. But in an effort to clean up the shit that we laugh at - well intentioned though it may be - we've allowed pretty much every grievance everyone has into the mix and made it so nothing is allowed. No joke can be written that somebody, somewhere decides they're the victim of it. So we've for all intents and purposes stopped making comedies. A least of the classic, Rated R, raunchy kind with no sacred cows that we all grew up on.
You know, the funny ones.
I mean, consider one comedian and one year. Jim Carrey in 1994 starred in Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber, and The Mask. That has to be the greatest 12 months by anyone in the history of the genre. And not one of them could be released today. From Ace throwing up because he made out with Einhorn and realized she's really Finkel to Lloyd Christmas selling a decapitated parrot to a blind kid. So now Carrey dedicates his genius to making arthouse films and kid movies, which are the safe choices everybody seems to be making now. For instance the Farrelly brothers, who gave us Dumb & Dumber and Kingpin and other politically incorrect classics just won a Best Picture Oscar for Green Book, a drama that about a hundred people saw.
Or consider Adam McKay. He won an Oscar for writing The Big Short, a movie about the housing crash. Now he's up for Best Picture for Don't Look Up, which is a technically a comedy. But if you think that answers Rogan's question about whether they still make great comedy movies, ask yourself where you'd rank it among his early triumphs like Anchorman, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights. Trust me, 20 years from now no one's going to be quoting lines from Don't Look Up like we do every day from at least one of those gems. By the same token, McKay's collaborator Judd Apatow went from directing The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up to making documentaries.
These are all examples of incredibly funny people switching to the sorts of safe, respected, "serious" filmmaking that gets you prestige and awards. And they've been replaced by basically no one. Because the things we all like to laugh at are the failings of others, people acting like douchebags, the obnoxious, the ignorant. In other words, the things that make us human. The mentally healthiest brains are the ones that can laugh at themselves. Or the part of themselves they see in others.
But that ability is being pushed out by the outrage and righteous indignation of an easily offended and extremely loud few. Who have chosen to spend their short time in this ridiculous existence demanding that nothing be ridiculed. Humans are silly, idiotic naked monkeys. Everything about us should be fair game for laughs. Our stupidity. Our egos. Death. Drunkenness. Bathroom habits. Race. Gender. Age. Sex. Especially sex. Mocking all of these things is mocking ourselves, which is the best indication of a healthy mind. And the ones who scream the loudest that all the things that have made people laugh since the dawn of civilization need to be stopped, better come up with a funny alternative, and fast. Because our species isn't wired to sit around worrying about how offended the next person is. Your feelings be damned, there are only so many documentaries and art films about our dystopian future a person can watch before we just need cowboys farting around a campfire:
Finally, I'll answer Rogan's question about when the last great comedy was. It's 2019's criminally under appreciated Good Boys. It's like a cross between Stand by Me and Superbad. It's Certified Fresh on ThornTomatoes [tm]. Two Old Balls [tm] up.:
Keep making more like this, and maybe the time-honored tradition of Hollywood comedy will not be dead.